The San Antonio Spurs (4-1) went into San Francisco and defeated the Golden State Warriors (1-4) by a final score of 127-110. While a win is a win, this isn’t the Warriors of even six months ago. Stephen Curry (broken hand), Klay Thompson (torn ACL) and Kevin Durant (torn Achilles, desertion to Brooklyn) were all out. In this game, Draymond Green added to Golden State’s woes when he suffered a finger injury, so it was hardly a fair fight. Then again, I don’t think anyone associated with the Warriors felt remorse about beating the Spurs when they’ve dealt with injury bad luck over the last few seasons.
In the first half, the Spurs — who played without Dejounte Murray because he’s not ready to play in back-to-back games yet — didn’t play too well and only led by two points at halftime. Thankfully, the good guys were more focused coming out of intermission and built a double-digit lead in the third quarter. The fourth quarter was never truly competitive.
Overall, there wasn’t a whole lot to take out of this game for the Spurs. These Warriors barely classify as an NBA level team so a loss would have been disastrous. San Antonio won fairly easily and now look forward to a return trip home and a visit from the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday evening. As it stands, the Spurs and Lakers sit atop the Western Conference with their 4-1 records.
San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors – Final Grades
This was a quality bounce-back game for LaMarcus Aldridge after the egg he laid against the Los Angeles Clippers. In the first half, his shot wasn’t falling but he was efforting more on defense and exhibited more passion on the boards. Aldridge got back on track in the third quarter, when he scored 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field and 4-for-4 shooting from the charity stripe. Defensively, he never took it out of first gear against Golden State — he didn’t really have to — outside of a few strong defensive stands at the rim. All in all, it was relieving to see Aldridge back on the right path.
Interesting. After two games where DeMar DeRozan combined to have two assists while turning it over 12 times, he flipped the switch on his style of play and became a playmaker extraordinaire like he was for a lot of last season. He finished the game against Golden State with 11 assists in 29 minutes after totaling nine assists in his first four games of the season. Was it because Murray was out and DeRozan felt more responsibility to create? Could it have been a conscious effort to get back to what worked well last season? Was it just because the Warriors are a pitiful defensive team and were easy to pick apart? It’s difficult to say for sure; we’ll find out going forward. Outside of DeRozan’s passing, he selected his spots well when calling his own number, as he put up 13 points on only seven field goal attempts.
Derrick White started with Murray out and proceeded to fumble away his opportunity. He didn’t play well in any facet of the game. He didn’t look to score enough and was passing up shots. His playmaking was iffy at best. His defense was a step slow and too hesitant. After flashing so much court vision last season, it’s a bit alarming that he only has nine assists all season, especially because White is playing full-time at point guard.
I was thoroughly unimpressed with Bryn Forbes defense for a majority of the game. There was a stretch in the second half where he finally started to fight through screens — but the damage had been done. He was on the spectator end as the various men he attempted to guard rained shots over his late-closing defense. Like Aldridge, Forbes did most of his offensive damage in the third period. In that quarter, he totaled nine points on 3-for-5 shooting from the field, 2-for-3 shooting on threes and connected on his lone free throw attempt.
If Boris Diaw and Dennis Rodman had a love child. But seriously, this was a strange game for Lyles. He was a monster on the glass, pulling down a career-high 14 boards in 28 minutes of action. Lyles also passed well and illustrated some impressive ball-handling abilities for a big man. But, wow, he can’t hit a shot. Draymond Green was literally not defending him and Lyles still wasn’t able to put a point on the board. For a guy who entered this season as a scorer who didn’t do much else, this is perplexing. Lyles still hasn’t hit a shot outside of the paint while wearing Silver and Black dating back to the preseason and even counting the open scrimmage. Whoa.
Patty Mills put together a vintage performance against the Warriors, scoring 31 points in 22 minutes. It was the most points Mills has scored since February of 2014 — or, as Spurs fans orient themselves, about four months prior to championship No. 5. Mills got hot early and never cooled off, scoring 16 points in the first half and 15 points in the second half. Needless to say, his offensive explosive really helped his value as he fired away with extreme confidence. I thought his defense was shaky to begin the game but as Mills’ confidence grew, so did his ability to impact the game on the defensive end. While the sample size is small and heavily influenced by tonight’s fireworks, Mills is averaging more points per 100 possessions (27.6 points) than he ever has over the course of a whole season. A resurgent Mills would really be a nice surprise this season.
I thought Marco Belinelli was better than average (his average, to be precise) defensively. He actually read the passing lanes once or twice, shockingly enough. On offense, he knocked down a couple shots and got to the free throw line. It’s not much but with how much Belinelli has struggled this year, it’s encouraging.
It looks like Rudy Gay is rounding into shape. He looked much more nimble tonight, which is an especially good sign because it was the second night of a back-to-back. With his legs back under him, Gay was once again difficult to stop on the offensive end. Once he made up his mind, the Warriors couldn’t do much but watch. Entering the game 2-for-14 from three-point land, it was good to see him splash two of his three attempts from deep. I liked his work on the boards and even his attentiveness defensively. Well done.
I guess it’s safe to say the Spurs actually did sign DeMarre Carroll this summer. After starting his Spurs career with four DNP-CDs, Carroll got on the court tonight for the first time. Considering the rust and his newness to the team, I thought he did pretty well. His hustling on the defensive end was contagious, he scratched and clawed in the paint, and he showed that he can do a little bit more offensively than simply stand around and shoot threes. We’ll see if this performance earns him more playing time but he looked like the solid veteran the Spurs allegedly added the summer.
Jakob Poeltl is another Spurs player who responded well to a disappointing showing against the Clippers. The big Austrian was a point away from posting a double-double in 18 minutes of action. He was much, much better on the glass, much more forceful defending the rim and his cuts to the basket were more purposeful. When Poeltl is active and playing hard, he’s a big-time asset for the bench unit that few teams can match.
Chimezie Metu has been active for all the games but this was his first time playing this year. His athleticism popped when protecting the rim; I’ll even forgive him for his goaltending violation.
Lonnie Walker IV
After playing “terribly” against the Clippers and being “noncompetitive,” Lonnie Walker IV only played mop-up duty tonight. He had one strong drive to the rim but that was about it.
Drew Eubanks was active like he always is when he hits the court. He wasn’t too effective in garbage time but … he was active.
It was notable that Pop replaced Murray with Carroll in the rotation by sliding Belinelli and Mills down a position. In this one-game sample size, it looked like it could be the way to go in the games Murray has to sit. I don’t think Pop did a whole lot right or wrong this game but I do agree with him giving Lyles extended minutes. If Lyles can actually add some scoring to everything else he’s doing, the Spurs might have themselves a player. As it stands, we’re all waiting for him to prove he can hit a shot.